The X-Pan crop mode with the XCD 30mm F3.5

Hasselblad has released new firmware for its X1D mirrorless medium format camera that brings it as close to a digital X-Pan (you can read Hamish Gill's writeup of the 35mm X-Pan II here) as we can sensibly hope for. Firmware v1.20 adds a series of crop modes that includes the 65:24 X-Pan ratio, as well as classic 1:1 square and other well-known medium format proportions.

The update also brings the much needed instant image preview mode to the camera’s EVF as well as the ability to review captured pictures via the viewfinder. And now autofocus can be used with certain H system lenses when they are fitted to the X1D via the XH adapter.

During a recent trip to Hasselblad's factory I was able to shoot with a camera loaded with the new firmware to try out the new features. I have to say I was disproportionally excited to use the X-Pan crop mode, and once I’d set it I had trouble switching it off because it makes everything look so good.

The camera had been set so the different crops could be cycled through using the front custom button, and with 50 million pixels on hand on the sensor I wasn’t too worried about a heavy crop leaving me with no resolution. Even with the dramatic crop that the X-Pan mode makes we are still left with an image area of 8272x3062 pixels – or 25.3MP.

Only the Raw files show the crop, and the crop isn't permanent - at can be shifted, altered and undone entirely so the full image can be used.

While we get to see the crop in the viewfinder and on the rear screen of the camera, even the JPEG files are captured as whole 4:3 images. The crop only appears on the Raw files when they are displayed in Hasselblad’s Phocus software – and even the crop can be adjusted, shifted around or switched off.

Of course, you can crop any image you want to 65x24 using any software, but the fun here is in seeing the letter-box in the viewfinder and in the atmosphere composing with this anamorphic-style format creates. The unused area of the viewfinder is blacked out, but users can adjust the density of the mask so the whole scene can be viewed to make composition easier.

The new crop modes:

  • X-Pan Ratio (65:24),
  • 1:1
  • 7:6
  • 5:4
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 2:1
  • A4
  • US Letter

The new preview mode in the viewfinder is nothing special, but shows Hasselblad catching up with a feature offered by every other mirrorless camera. The new option to back-up images from one SD card to the other in slot two is hardly revolutionary either, but very useful all the same.

Ove Bengtsson, Hasselblad product manager, explains that the HC lenses are designed for a phase detection system, but that they can now be used with AF on the X1D

What will be interesting to existing H system users is the ability to use contrast detect AF with certain HC lenses with the XH adapter. Ove Bengtsson, Hasselblad’s product manager, explained that while the AF would be fast enough for a hand-held portrait it won’t be quick enough to shoot sport or action.

‘Our AF system is designed to be accurate rather than quick’ he told me. ‘These are lenses designed for phase detection systems, and we have to move a lot of glass. We don’t use internal focusing systems with small AF groups as these will, at some focus positions, compromise image quality. We often have to move the whole lens construction during focusing, so when working with a contrast-detection system the most difficult thing is to stop the lens after it has passed the peak and bring it back to the correct position. But as I said, image quality is our priority – not AF speed.’

The X1D can now provide contrast detection AF with certain H system lenses when they are mounted via the XH adapter.

To bring AF to the HC series the lens needs its firmware updates as well as the camera. The following lenses will be compatible:

  • HCD 4/28mm
  • HC 3,5/35mm
  • HC 3,5/50 mm
  • HC 3,5/50 mm II
  • HC 2,8/80 mm
  • HC 2,2/100mm

New v1.20.0 firmware for the H6D brings many of the updates that the X1D received, including the crop modes in Live View, dual card back-up and the lens data inserted into image EXIF information. Both cameras also have a new display mode when the spirit level is active that includes basic exposure information instead of just showing a blank screen.
For more information see the Hasselblad website, where you can download the X1D firmware and the H6D firmware.

Press release


Hasselblad continues to push the development of their systems further with new features in the 1.20 Firmware update.

Hasselblad continues to expand on the capabilities of its highly unique and renowned camera systems with the latest firmware update. The 1.20 Firmware brings exciting new updates and functionality to the X and H Systems that allow photographers and artists help capture their creative vision.

These new features include Instant Preview and Imaging Browsing through the X1D EVF, a beneficial utility that many photographers rely on. Firmware 1.20 also offers creative Selectable Crop Modes including the popular X-Pan Ratio (65:24), 1:1, 7:6, 5:4, 3:2, 16:9, 2:1, A4, US Letter and more.

“Hasselblad is a company that designs and creates tools for photographers. We have released many firmware updates in the past year. It shows our dedication to our customers and that we are listening to their feedback on how to improve.” said Ove Bengtsson, Product Manager.

Hasselblad is pleased to also announce contrast autofocus compatibility using the XH lens adapter with a select group of HC/HCD lenses. A full list of updates for the X and H Systems can be found below along with compatible lenses for the XH lens adapter.

X1D: v1.20.0

  • Instant preview and image browsing in EVF
  • Selectable crop modes
  • Back-up to secondary card
  • Added EXIF tag: Lens Model
  • Spirit level overlay: More info added (Exposure time, Aperture value, ISO)
  • Touchpad: Pan in zoomed-in EVF live view
  • Touchpad; Move focus point with HDMI attached screen
  • Contrast auto focus with XH adapter*
    *works now with following lenses:
    HCD 4/28mm
    HC 3,5/35mm
    HC 3,5/50 mm
    HC 3,5/50 mm II
    HC 2,8/80 mm
    HC 2,2/100mm

The lenses need to be upgraded to lens firmware version 19.0.2
More info here:

H6D: v1.20.0

  • Selectable crop modes in Live View
  • Back-up to secondary card
  • Added EXIF tag: Lens Model
  • Spirit level overlay: More info added (Exposure time, Aperture value, ISO